UNITED STATES OVERVIEW: 2012
America’s Health Rankings®–2012 Edition shows Vermont at the top of the list of healthiest states again this year. The state steadily rose in the rankings over the last 14 years from a ranking of 17th in 1998 to first, where it has remained for 4 consecutive years. Hawaii is ranked second this year, an improvement from ranking third in the 2011 Edition and fifth in the 2009 and 2010 Editions. Hawaii has ranked in the top 6 states every year of the index.New Hampshire is third, followed by Massachusetts and Minnesota. Mississippi and Louisiana tie for 49th as the least healthy states. Arkansas, West Virginia, and South Carolina complete the bottom 5 states.
Vermont ascended from 20th in 1990 and 1991 to the top position with sustained improvement in the last decade. Vermont’s strengths include its number one position for all health determinants combined, which includes ranking in the top 10 states for a high rate of high school graduation, a low violent crime rate, a low incidence of infectious disease, a low prevalence of low birthweight infants, high per capita public health funding, a low rate of uninsured population, and ready availability of primary care physicians. Vermont’s challenges are a high prevalence of binge drinking at 18.5 percent of the adult population, a moderate occupational fatalities rate at 3.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, and a moderately high cancer death rate at 185.0 deaths per 100,000 population.
Mississippi ranks well for a low prevalence of binge drinking and a low violent crime rate. It ranks in the bottom 5 states on 12 of the 24 measures including a high prevalence of obesity, a high prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle, a low high school graduation rate, limited availability of primary care physicians, a high prevalence of low birthweight infants, and a high prevalence of diabetes. Mississippi ranks 49th for all health determinants combined, so its overall ranking is unlikely to change significantly in the near future.
Louisiana ranks well for a low prevalence of binge drinking and a high rate of childhood immunizations. It ranks in the bottom 5 states on 13 of the 24 measures including a high prevalence of obesity, a high rate of children in poverty, a high rate of low birthweight infants, a high prevalence of diabetes, and a high rate of cardiovascular and cancer deaths.